First Esdras Chapters
1 Then the second, that had spoken of the strength of the king, began to say,
2 O sirs, do not men excel in strength, that bear rule over the sea and land, and all things in them?
3 But yet is the king stronger: and he is their lord, and has dominion over them; and in whatever he commands them they obey him.
4 If he bid them make war the one against the other, they do it: and if he send them out against the enemies, they go, and overcome mountains, walls, and towers.
5 They kill and are slain, and transgress not the king’s commandment: if they get the victory, they bring all to the king, as well the plunder, as all things else.
6 Likewise for those that are no soldiers, and have not to do with wars, but use husbandry, when they have reaped again that which they had sown, they bring it to the king, and compel one another to pay tribute to the king.
7 And he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare;
8 if he command to strike, they strike; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build;
9 if he command to cut down, they cut down; if he command to plant, they plant.
10 So all his people and his armies obey him: furthermore he lies down, he eats and drinks, and takes his rest:
11 and these keep watch round about him, neither may any one depart, and do his own business, neither disobey they him in anything.
12 O sirs, how should not the king be strongest, seeing that in such sort he is obeyed? And he held his peace.
13 Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of truth, (this was Zorobabel) began to speak.
14 O sirs, is not the king great, and men are many, and wine is strong? who is it then that rules them, or has the lordship over them? are they not women?
15 Women have borne the king and all the people that bear rule by sea and land.
16 Even of them came they: and they nourished them up that planted the vineyards, from whence the wine comes.
17 These also make garments for men; these bring glory to men; and without women can’t men be.
18 Yes, and if men have gathered together gold and silver and any other goodly thing, and see a woman which is comely in favor and beauty,
19 they let all those things go, and gape after her, and even with open mouth fix their eyes fast on her; and have all more desire to her than to gold or silver, or any goodly thing whatever.
20 A man leaves his own father that brought him up, and his own country, and joins with his wife.
21 And with his wife he ends his days, and remembers neither father, nor mother, nor country.
22 By this also you° must know that women have dominion over you: do you° not labor and toil, and give and bring all to women?
23 Yes, a man takes his sword, and goes forth to make outroads, and to rob and to steal, and to sail upon the sea and upon rivers;
24 and looks upon a lion, and walks in the darkness; and when he has stolen, plundered, and robbed, he brings it to his love.
25 Wherefore a man loves his wife better than father or mother.
26 Yes, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become bondmen for their sakes.
27 Many also have perished, have stumbled, and sinned, for women.
28 And now do you° not believe me? is not the king great in his power? do not all regions fear to touch him?
29 Yet did I see him and Apame the king’s concubine, the daughter of the illustrious Barticus, sitting at the right hand of the king,
30 and taking the crown from the king’s head, and setting it upon her own head; yes, she struck the king with her left hand:
31 and therewithal the king gaped and gazed upon her with open mouth: if she laughed upon him, he laughed also: but if she took any displeasure at him, he was fain to flatter, that she might be reconciled to him again.
32 O sirs, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing they do thus?
33 Then the king and the nobles looked one upon another: so he began to speak concerning truth.
34 O sirs, are not women strong? great is the earth, high is the heaven, swift is the sun in his course, for he encircles the heavens round about, and fetches his course again to his own place in one day.
35 Is he not great that makes these things? therefore great is truth, and stronger than all things.
36 All the earth calls upon truth, and the heaven blesses her: all works shake and tremble, but with her is no unrighteous thing.
37 Wine is unrighteous, the king is unrighteous, women are unrighteous, all the children of men are unrighteous, and unrighteous are all such their works; and there is no truth in them; in their unrighteousness also they shall perish.
38 But truth remains, and is strong forever; she lives and conquers forevermore.
39 With her there is no accepting of persons or rewards; but she does the things that are just, and refrains from all unrighteous and wicked things; and all men do well like of her works.
40 Neither in her judgment is any unrighteousness; and she is the strength, and the kingdom, and the power, and the majesty, of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth.
41 And with that he held his tongue. And all the people then shouted, and said, Great is truth, and strong above all things.
42 Then said the king to him, Ask what you will more than is appointed in writing, and we will give it you, inasmuch as you are found wisest; and you shall sit next me, and shall be called my cousin.
43 Then said he to the king, Remember your vow, which you did vow to build Jerusalem, in the day when you came to your kingdom,
44 and to send away all the vessels that were taken out of Jerusalem, which Cyrus set apart, when he vowed to destroy Babylon, and vowed to send them again there.
45 You did also vow to build up the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judea was made desolate by the Chaldeans.
46 And now, O lord the king, this is that which I require, and which I desire of you, and this is the princely generosity that shall proceed from you: I pray therefore that you make good the vow, the performance whereof you have vowed to the King of heaven with your own mouth.
47 Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him to all the treasurers and governors and captains and local governors, that they should safely bring on their way both him, and all those that should go up with him to build Jerusalem.
48 He wrote letters also to all the governors that were in Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and to them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus to Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him.
49 Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that should go out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no officer, no governor, no local governor, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors;
50 and that all the country which they occupied should be free to them without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held:
51 and that there should be yearly given twenty talents to the building of the temple, until the time that it were built;
52 and other ten talents yearly, for burnt offerings to be presented upon the altar every day, as they had a commandment to offer seventeen:
53 and that all those who should come from Babylonia to build the city should have their freedom, as well they as their posterity, and all the priests that came.
54 He wrote also to give them their charges, and the priests’ vestments wherein they minister;
55 and for the Levites he wrote that their charges should be given them until the day that the house were finished, and Jerusalem built up.
56 And he commanded to give to all that kept the city lands and wages.
57 He sent away also all the vessels from Babylon, that Cyrus had set apart; and all that Cyrus had given in commandment, he charged also to be done, and sent to Jerusalem.
58 Now when this young man was gone forth, he lifted up his face to heaven toward Jerusalem, and praised the King of heaven,
59 and said, From you comes victory, from you comes wisdom, and your is the glory, and I am your servant.
60 Blessed are you, who have given me wisdom: and to you I give thanks, O Lord of our fathers.
61 And so he took the letters, and went out, and came to Babylon, and told it all his kindred.
62 And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty
63 to go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments of music and gladness seven days.